Monday, May 8, 2017

Cliffhanger Marathon

Gopher Flats
Moab, UT
April 29, 2017

Every year about this time, the Chris Martinez Marathon draws lots of runners from all over the country to participate in a marathon along the Cliffhanger 4X4 trial.  Our club volunteers to haul supplies (three jeeps full of snacks, cases of oranges and bananas, cups, tables, 40 gallons of water, Heed mix, cokes, and containers) and man the aid station which we set up at the Jackson Hole Bike Trail intersection at 3.2 miles.  

We enjoyed the scary fun on this trail 4 times in Pearl, but we had never done it in the new Jeep buggy so a practice run...make that 2 practice runs... were in order before we headed out in the dark on Saturday, April 29th.  We set out with Dee as our leader along with Dave and Debbie (friends from Maryland) on the Tuesday before the race for the first run.  Skies were a mixed bag of blue with white fluffy clouds one minute then totally gray with low hanging rain clouds the next.  Joe and I had some trouble on Tuesday.  We broke a T case which we had replaced on Wednesday by the crew at M4O.  So on Thursday, Dee and Joe and I returned for another practice run and to get a better idea of how long it would take us to get to the the intersection.  We aced the Cliffhanger climb, but had an almost roll on the Z turn when we drove too far passenger and slipped in a hole.  I held on while Joe very calmly drove us out of it.  I'm thinking I don't like tippy so much anymore !  Dee turned us around and we tried again...not perfect, but better.  Third time was the charm...we aced all the obstacles on Saturday...very thankful for the extra day of practice and Dee's guidance.    

It was very busy all three days on this challenging 8.6 mile (round trip) in and out trail. Dee maneuvers between jeeps parked on the narrow shelf road that overlooks Jackson Hole.

There were lots of bikers enjoying the weather.  Here we crawled by a group that was stopped for a break.
Dave aced the Cliffhanger Obstacle.
Dee, driving Elliott, her new 4-door JK, for the first time on Cliffhanger, showed us all the right lines.   

Joe faces the Cliffhanger climb for the first time in Wile E.  And yes, that is the edge of the cliff !

 The endless series of steep ledges that start at the trailhead grab your attention immediately.  Its a good thing I take the pictures because this trail offers some of the prettiest scenery around. 

 On Saturday we headed out in the dark, 5:45 am, to meet Dee, her passenger Susan, and Glen at the loading zone parking lot on Kane Creek Road.  From there it took another hour and 20 minutes to reach the intersection where we unloaded and set up the aid station.  We were all ready and waiting for our first runners who arrived about 8:30.  It was a chilly, windy day, but we had a great time.  The runners were all smiles and appreciated us being there.  We closed shop about 1:00 pm when the sweepers returned from Jackson Hole to report all runners were done.  We quickly loaded up and were on our way.  Heading out, we were stopped by a jeep with a steering box failure climbing up the Cliffhanger obstacle.  Glen helped the other folks in that group strap the rig up and move it off to the side so we could pass.  We were back in town with supplies unloaded and heading home just after 3:00. A long, but successful and fun day. 

 Glen leads the way at dark thirty !

Watching Dee climb down the Cliffhanger obstacle...

Heading out...  

...and looking back at Dee on the dreaded Z turn.

 Thanks for the pictures of Wile E's first adventures on Cliffhanger Dee ! 
Until next time... 



  1. Wow! That is one wicked trail! Congratulations on completing it a couple times. It's great that your group helps out with this race. The weather always seems cool and iffy for this race. That was a long day for the puppies. Are getting better at staying alone longer?

    1. It's always fun to help with the marathons Pam. It was a long day for the pups, but leaving in the wee hours of the morning helps...they sleep! We don't do it often. They are such good pups.

  2. Wile E is having fun! Looks like you'll have to get used to the really scary stuff now!

  3. Oh my! That's quite the trail :-) Absolutely beautiful views. I'm sure the runners were very appreciative to find you 'around the corner'.

  4. First time in several years we haven't gone to Moab on our way back to Montana--thanks for the gorgeous photos!

    1. Next time you go through Moab, give us a shout!